25 min

Author-Illustrator Interview with Chris Jones Cabin Tales for Young Writers

    • Books

An interview with Chris Jones, illustrator of 25+ picture books and leveled readers plus multiple magazine features, and author-illustrator of graphic novels and comics for all ages. Hear about his love of wild settings, his resistance to the bound pages of a sketchbook, and his method of creating narrative tension by putting his characters through emotional workouts. 25 minutes. All ages.


A full transcript is available at CabinTales.ca.


Show Notes
[0:00] Intro


[1:15] Interview with Chris Jones


CA: So you're working on a project right now with your wife writing and you illustrating?


CJ: Yes, my partner. I started a book about a ladybug …. I really wanted to draw the bugs but I just couldn't get the plot to go. So I said, Do you want to take a stab at it? Because she’s a writer. So she came up with a really good treatment for it. …. So it's been fun…


 


[2:10] CA: When you work on your own projects, do you write as well as illustrate sometimes?


CJ: Yes I do. …. It's rare that everything is clear at the beginning. For me, it takes a lot of revising and exploring to kind of find out how I want the story to go. …


 


[2:45] CA: …. And do you have any favorite plot twists, or the ways that the story turned around as you were working on it, that sort of surprised you? …


CJ: Yeah. I love plot twists. … always unexpected twists in the story are coming up, new angles. .... You get an aha moment and you’re like, Oh, this would work…. That's inspiring when I'm working on stories. And I love twists in movies and books as well. …


 


[3:25] CA: And in terms of narrative and just getting a reader to turn the page, do you have any advice for young writers on pacing or building tension?


CJ: … I usually can centre it around strong emotional reactions. So I put my characters through stuff and their reaction, their emotions, create the tension. You know, they’re feeling really sad or they're feeling really desperate or some other strong emotion. And then that drives them through the story….


 


[4:10] CA: And what about settings... Do you have any favourites? …


CJ: My style is kind of irregular and organic. …. I love drawing jungles, alien planets. … because I love the organic feel of all the vegetation and the rocks and all that stuff. That's my go-to setting.


 


[4:40] CA: … Do you have any advice for young author-illustrators for either character or setting?


CJ: I focus it around, What do I want to draw? Or what kind of setting do I want to tell a story in? …. And then I'm like, How can I tell a story around that? And then I think back to my childhood, some strong emotions or some things I went through. And then say, Oh, the grasshopper could be nervous about going to school in the jungle or something. …


 


[5:35] CA: And do you keep a sketchbook where you just sort of doodle?


CJ: I used to. In high school and college, I used to sketch a lot. But now I find sometimes I’ll use it just for really rough notes and stuff. But I've always found sketchbooks, for me, too precious. … I find I don't use sketchbooks very much, only for like really rough jotting down stuff…


 


[6:30] CA: And what about endings? How do you feel about sad endings? …


CJ: I love sad endings. I have done some adult comic stuff where I’ll immediately go for all sad, all hardship. I love it. Adversity -- I love it. …In kidlit typically, … you end it on a happy note. But any chance I have to do non-kidlit stuff, I'm always like going for dreary and sad when I can. Because it's that strong negative stuff that brings out all the good juicy emotions…


 


[7:10] CA: Is there any activity or place that you tend to get your best ideas from?


CJ: …Usually my best ideas come when I just sit down and doodle. I'll just let it be free. Try not to edit – like that's hard for me because of all the years of client work. … And then when I do that, I'll connect different thi

An interview with Chris Jones, illustrator of 25+ picture books and leveled readers plus multiple magazine features, and author-illustrator of graphic novels and comics for all ages. Hear about his love of wild settings, his resistance to the bound pages of a sketchbook, and his method of creating narrative tension by putting his characters through emotional workouts. 25 minutes. All ages.


A full transcript is available at CabinTales.ca.


Show Notes
[0:00] Intro


[1:15] Interview with Chris Jones


CA: So you're working on a project right now with your wife writing and you illustrating?


CJ: Yes, my partner. I started a book about a ladybug …. I really wanted to draw the bugs but I just couldn't get the plot to go. So I said, Do you want to take a stab at it? Because she’s a writer. So she came up with a really good treatment for it. …. So it's been fun…


 


[2:10] CA: When you work on your own projects, do you write as well as illustrate sometimes?


CJ: Yes I do. …. It's rare that everything is clear at the beginning. For me, it takes a lot of revising and exploring to kind of find out how I want the story to go. …


 


[2:45] CA: …. And do you have any favorite plot twists, or the ways that the story turned around as you were working on it, that sort of surprised you? …


CJ: Yeah. I love plot twists. … always unexpected twists in the story are coming up, new angles. .... You get an aha moment and you’re like, Oh, this would work…. That's inspiring when I'm working on stories. And I love twists in movies and books as well. …


 


[3:25] CA: And in terms of narrative and just getting a reader to turn the page, do you have any advice for young writers on pacing or building tension?


CJ: … I usually can centre it around strong emotional reactions. So I put my characters through stuff and their reaction, their emotions, create the tension. You know, they’re feeling really sad or they're feeling really desperate or some other strong emotion. And then that drives them through the story….


 


[4:10] CA: And what about settings... Do you have any favourites? …


CJ: My style is kind of irregular and organic. …. I love drawing jungles, alien planets. … because I love the organic feel of all the vegetation and the rocks and all that stuff. That's my go-to setting.


 


[4:40] CA: … Do you have any advice for young author-illustrators for either character or setting?


CJ: I focus it around, What do I want to draw? Or what kind of setting do I want to tell a story in? …. And then I'm like, How can I tell a story around that? And then I think back to my childhood, some strong emotions or some things I went through. And then say, Oh, the grasshopper could be nervous about going to school in the jungle or something. …


 


[5:35] CA: And do you keep a sketchbook where you just sort of doodle?


CJ: I used to. In high school and college, I used to sketch a lot. But now I find sometimes I’ll use it just for really rough notes and stuff. But I've always found sketchbooks, for me, too precious. … I find I don't use sketchbooks very much, only for like really rough jotting down stuff…


 


[6:30] CA: And what about endings? How do you feel about sad endings? …


CJ: I love sad endings. I have done some adult comic stuff where I’ll immediately go for all sad, all hardship. I love it. Adversity -- I love it. …In kidlit typically, … you end it on a happy note. But any chance I have to do non-kidlit stuff, I'm always like going for dreary and sad when I can. Because it's that strong negative stuff that brings out all the good juicy emotions…


 


[7:10] CA: Is there any activity or place that you tend to get your best ideas from?


CJ: …Usually my best ideas come when I just sit down and doodle. I'll just let it be free. Try not to edit – like that's hard for me because of all the years of client work. … And then when I do that, I'll connect different thi

25 min